Discussion on Carr’s Chapter 9

Answer the following questions:

1) Our modern history clearly shows we have a distaste for memorizing. Why bother memorizing, we claim, when whatever we need to remember we can look up – either in a book or, nowadays, on our phones and through Google. Instead of an Industrial Age metaphor, our contemporary metaphor is that the brain is like a computer. But Carr says we are wrong about this. What kinds of evidence does he offer to show he is right? Is it good evidence? How so?

2) Carr points out that biological memory, as opposed to computer memory, has “almost infinite gradations” (190). Why is this important to argument that memory is harmed by our heavy use of the Internet? How might you use this claim in your own argument?

3) Carr points out that the key to forming lasting memories is “attentiveness” (193). How does the Internet (or the smart phone) undermine our ability to make lasting memories then? How might this point be useful in your investigation?

Write a response to the comments below, agreeing or disagreeing:

1.) Carr states that our brains are not like computers. The evidence he uses in this chapter relates to how memories are stored. When the artificial intelligence of computers is used to store information, the information is essentially frozen. When we open a saved document for example, it is exactly the same as it was when we saved it. Information stored in computers is not affected by the passing of time or updates to the computer. It will always be the same as the day it was stored. Our brains are much different. When we go to recall a memory, the very action of recalling it changes the memory in ways. Our brains change over time, and how we recall and remember thing is affected by this change in ways that do not affect computers. For example, we may have a memory from childhood stored in our minds. When we think about this memory, how we perceive it also changes over time. I think Carr offers good evidence to not compare our brains to computers. As much as artificial intelligence has advanced, it cannot compare to the abilities of the brain to adapt over time, which I believe is the key difference.

2.) This is important because when surfing the net we overload our short-term memory and the only information that is transferred into our long-term memory is what we give our full attention. In most cases we can’t articulate information in a way that is understandable when passing it on to our peers because the internet scatters thought as we click from page to page.

3.) The internet undermines the ability to make lasting memories because when surfing the net we jump from one intriguing piece of info to the next without allowing it to be stored in the long-term memory bank and we put strain on our brains when trying to retrieve information that we never fully comprehend. This info is helpful because it explains why we can’t retain information and regurgitate it.

4.) I know that when I use the internet, I find it hard to stay concentrated on the task I originally tried to accomplish. I have to be very disciplined, and avoid opening up other tabs while I am doing homework or research. It has been proven that the internet offers myriad distractions that are constantly begging for the attention of different parts of our brains. This prevents us from really focusing in on what we are trying to accomplish. This factor, that the internet impedes attention and deep understanding, is vital to investigations of the internet. We must always be aware of the internet’s many distractions, and how they affect our ability to be attentive.

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